Estonian nupp stitch technique

I reviewed my nupp posts, and found they are lacking. I’m fixing this mistake now, and make you a proper nupp stitch knitting tutorial. Welcome to the wonderful world of Estonian lace 🙂

knitting and patience

You will learn:

  • what is a nupp stitch and why would one need it;
  • main mistakes when working on nupps + solutions;
  • three main techniques how to make nupps + their differences;


Note, that I’m not the one who will tell you that there is one way, and ONLY ONE WAY of doing things. This is not the way my grandmother taught me, and this is not the way I will teach you. If you do something differently, then it doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong – it just means you are doing it differently.

Now that I have given you my disclaimer, let’s begin.

Why bother with nupp stitch?Nupp stitch

My grandmother told me that nupps were used because of the development of knitting machines. Estonian lace shawls were “high-end” products, while the machine knits were cheap mock-ups (this is how things should be now too…anyway…). First class ladies were looking for hand knitted shawls, and using nupps was the only way to prove that the shawl was knitted by hand – machines couldn’t do such a thing.

You may wonder, why nupp stitch – why not baubles or some similar knitting technique? You could use some other technique, as long as you knit with a bit thicker yarn than the traditional “cobweb” lace yarn Estonians use. Other techniques will be too “heavy” for delicate Estonian lace shawls though, because the yarn is so thin, and the shawl is so airy.

What is a nupp stitch?

In essence, nupp stitch is a block of alternating “knit” and “yarn over” stitches worked into one stitch, and then knitted together again. That’s all this is. What makes this technique so challenging is the knitting together part.

knitting nupps

knitting practice

My grandmother showed me three basic ways how to do nupp stitch, and I’ll show them to you in a minute. Before that, I would like to address three main mistakes people make when working on their nupps, so you can keep an eye on that.

Nupp stitch mistakes

Now that you know what to look out for, you can start practicing. Like I said before, nupp stitch is a block of alternating “knit” and “yarn over” stitches worked into one stitch, and then knitted together again. Difference in techniques is WHEN you are knitting those stitches together.

Here’s what I mean…

(click on the headline for the picture tutorial)


this is the tech I usually use in my own patterns, it will give you over-the-top fluffy look;

Knitting Nupp Stitch - Technique #1 - Knitting Together On Same Row

You will work your “knits” and “yarn overs”, and as soon as you’ve done that, you’ll knit everything together (click here for the tutorial).

For example, here I used nupp tech #1 – see how fluffy these nupps are:

Nupp tech #1 example


this is the tech to use in traditional Estonian lace;

Knitting Nupp Stitch - Technique #2 - Knitting Together On Next Row

First, on the right-side row, work your “knits” and “yarn overs” where needed (do not knit together), and continue with your pattern. Work the wrong-side row until your nupp stitches, and purl everything together (click here for the tutorial).

For example, Lilac Time Shawl I knitted – using this tech your nupps will show up, but they are not “in-your-face”, if you know what I mean:

Knitting The Triangular Estonian Lace Shawl


this is the tech for framing some pattern you want to emphasize because these nupps are oblong, like stretched;

Knitting Nupp Stitch - Technique #3 - Knitting Together On Next Right Side Row

Do your thing with “knits” and “yarn overs”, and move on. On the wrong-side row, work your way to the nupp stitches, holding yarn in front of the work slip all the nupp stitches on to the right hand needle, and move on. On your next right-side row, work until you reach your nupp stitches, and knit everything together (click here for the tutorial).

Now you know more than an average knitter. You know what are nupps, why they came to be, main mistakes, and techniques for making one. There’s nothing else to do than practice 🙂

Know anyone who will find this interesting? Please share… 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Knitting Estonian Nupp Stitch

  • 26. March 2017 at 20:24

    What is the difference between a nupp and a bobble?

    I’m knitting an afghan with 2 different bobbles – one has 5 stitches and the other has 3. BOTH are done in a different way. Both are a real PITA.

    Last night I had to frog to fix a bobble that came unraveled! Ugh!

    Thank you for sharing such gorgeous awesome patterns. You are a gem.

    • 27. March 2017 at 13:54

      Hi Marny, and thanks 🙂

      Best way to tell you what bobble is, is to give you a link – check this out:

      Basically, you will work on a bobble, knitting it back and forth, and then knit those stitches together. For nupp, it’s only increasing and knitting together without actually working through those stitches. (I really hope it make sense…I should do a post on this subject…)

      Some people feel that it’s easier to knit than nupp stitch. I think it’s a matter of taste, and the look you want to achieve.

    • 27. March 2017 at 13:57

      Oh, and I would also add that for an afghan, I would not use the nupp stitch instead of the bobble stitch unless it’s a lacy afghan. Reason is – those bobbles will give you a magnificent effect after you’re done. I do agree, they are PITA, but I think it’s worth it. I don’t know the pattern you’re working on, though….


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